The New Orleans Pelicans will welcome the LA Lakers to the Smoothie King Center tonight. The Pelicans have struggled so far, managing a dismal 18-24 record in the competitive Western Conference. The Lakers, on the other hand, are chasing the top seed, and currently lie 3rd in the standings with a 28-15 record.
Despite missing their star players in LeBron James and Anthony Davis, the LA Lakers have other players who can step up in their absence. Kyle Kuzma and Dennis Schröder will look to take up the mantle.
LA Lakers vs New Orleans Pelicans: 3 key matchups to look out for
The LA Lakers prevailed in the last meeting between the two sides, defeating the Pelicans with a scoreline of 112-95. The victory increased their winning streak against the New Orleans-based franchise to seven games.
This game will see some enticing battles and here are three matchups the fans should watch out for:
#3- Lonzo Ball (New Orleans Pelicans) vs Dennis Schröder (LA Lakers)
Lonzo Ball has been a pivotal part of the New Orleans Pelicans' setup this season, playing the dual role of a playmaker and a spot-up shooter. He will face Dennis Schröder, who has assumed the responsibility of being the secondary playmaker for the LA Lakers this season.
Ball has averaged a solid 14.2 points, 4.2 rebounds and 5.6 assists per game on 38.5% shooting from deep, while Schröder is putting up 15.6 points and 4.6 assists. Both players are capable 1v1 defenders, which makes this matchup quite intriguing.
#2- Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (LA Lakers) vs Brandon Ingram (New Orleans Pelicans)
Brandon Ingram has been a revelation for the New Orleans Pelicans since his arrival, as the team has found a consistent scoring option in him. He has put up 23.9 points and 5 rebounds per game while shooting 47% from the field. The LA Lakers will most likely use 3-and-D player Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to guard him, which could make for an exciting matchup.
Ingram has been given the responsibility to provide scoring punches and make plays when necessary. He has consistently delivered this season, however, a laterally quick defender like Pope could make things harder for him tonight.
#1- Zion Williamson (New Orleans Pelicans) vs Kyle Kuzma ( LA Lakers)
In the 2020/21 NBA season, Zion Williamson has lived up to the hype generated before his first overall selection in the 2019 draft. The athletic power forward averages 25 points and 7 rebounds per game, shooting an outrageous 62% from the field. His matchup will be against the LA Lakers' Kyle Kuzma, who has been promoted to the starting lineup following Anthony Davis' injury.
Kyle Kuzma has transformed into a solid rebounder and defender, making hustle plays all over the court. Although, guarding Zion Williamson for 30+ minutes is an assignment Kuzma doesn't come across every day, and the fans could be in for an entertaining night if both players are at their best.